Mitsubishi Motors’ electrification research and development dates back to the 1970s, Still, electrification didn’t represent a noticeable focus at Mitsubishi until the 2009 debut of its i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) in Japan and entry in the U.S. market two years later. The most notable example of Mitsubishi’s electrification effort is now the Outlander PHEV, a popular and award-winning plug-in hybrid variant of the marque’s Outlander SUV that first appeared abroad in 2013 and in the States in 2017. Like most automakers, Mitsubishi fielded interesting concepts over the years to share what might come to be. One that caught our eye was the Eclipse Concept-E, a sleek and artistic rolling rendition of what the next generation Eclipse of the era could become. As much as its styling grabbed our attention, it was the beefy hybrid powertrain that made the concept so compelling. Here’s our report on the innovative Eclipse Concept-E, just as it appeared 19 years ago in Green Car Journal’s Summer 2004 issue.
Excerpted from Summer 2004 Issue: It’s no secret that the sporty compact car craze, born in the shadows of the Southern California street racing underground and now spreading across the nation’s youth like wildfire, has arrived on the automotive scene. Exemplified, and perhaps proliferated, by the movie The Fast and the Furious and its sequel, this new generation of hot rodders has definitely captured the attention of automakers.
Sleek Supercar Styling
As Mitsubishi’s most visible entry into this new automotive sub-genre, the next Eclipse model is crucial to both the company’s image and its appeal to a younger demographic. So imagine our surprise when Mitsubishi's glimpse into the future, the Eclipse Concept-E, showcased a hybrid electric powertrain.
The Concept-E’s front wheels are driven by a parallel hybrid system integrating an electric motor with a 3.8-liter V-6, for a combined 270 horsepower. This is where it gets interesting: Mitsubishi’s innovative E-Boost system channels an additional 200 hp to the rear wheels from a 150 kW electric motor located behind the cabin, powered by lithium ion batteries secreted along the center of the vehicle. E-Boost is activated by aggressive throttle to provide an immediate boost in acceleration, much like a conventional turbo or supercharger, transforming the car into a 470 hp, all-wheel drive terror that raises the hybrid performance bar to new levels.
Powered by a 470 hp Hybrid
A look inside reveals further emphasis on the car's hybrid technology, with a decidedly futuristic twist. Centrally placed is a complex, 3D video imaging display that offers simulated gauges, diagnostic information, and interactive displays. The gearshift, looking as much the part of a fighter jet’s sidestick controller as a shifter, connects to a 6- speed transmission that allows for both manual and automated shifting.
The familiar corporate grill sits atop a gaping air intake and between large headlight assemblies featuring unique plasma lamps. The car’s tear drop shaped details, including side glass, door-handle cutouts, and roof profile, pay homage to the second-generation Eclipse that was cherished by the street tuner crowd. But the overall look of this iteration is thoroughly modern and striking. The muscular fender bulges speak of immense power and purpose, not inconsequentially housing wild nine-spoke, 20-inch wheels wrapped by 245/40R20 performance tires up front and 275/35R20 tires at the rear, suspended by independent multi-links at all four corners. It’s a theme well-integrated with the car’s ground hugging lower styling and aggressive stance.
With the Eclipse Concept-E, Mitsubishi has fused the disparate perceptions surrounding high-power, speed, and hybrid technology into a single package. In a youth-driven market that embraces innovation and technology – and times that demand higher efficiency – we hope that Mitsubishi is willing to bring this concept to the showroom and really find out if there’s such a thing as a supercar that’s too fast… and too clean.